Polson resident and former Pirates’ basketball player Derek Peel participated in his fifth consecutive Pioneer Days 3-on-3 tournament in the Ronan High School parking lot.
In his fifth season, Peel has noticed the competition level has increased in the last five years.
“The competition has changed a lot (in the last five years),” Peel said. “You can’t undervalue any team that you play against and you can’t judge teams on how they look or how they practice until you get out there and play because the competition gets harder every year.”
Peel said he felt there are multiple factors that contribute to the success factor of teams in a 3-on-3 format.
“Oh it gets harder every year,” Peel admits. “The sun, the heat and everyone is now watching YouTube searching for their favorite basketball player to help them practice. Some people make their living with 3-on-3 and play like their life depends on it. They give it all they have. You never know what to expect in a 3-on-3 tournament.”
Peel, who played basketball with his family, said though he is in it to win it, he also participated in the tournament for “fun.”
“I just go out there for fun,” Peel said. “It is a family thing with my dad and brother on the team and we just have fun to play basketball together. It reminds me of when I was 15-years-old playing ball with my family.”
The 3-on-3 Slam Dunk winner in the 9-foot division Carson Callison showcased a multitude of dunks during the Slam Dunk competition that allowed him to emerge victoriously.
“I just dunk a lot and in my hometown, I dunk on an adjustable hoop,” Callison said.
Callison, a native of Alberton, said he felt the dunk competition was more competitive than last year’s contest. With the victory, Callison won his second consecutive Pioneer Days Slam Dunk Title.
“The dunk contest is way better than last year and it was only me and one other kid,” Callison said. “It’s just cool and a cool feeling. The Pioneer Days dunk contest is the only place I can enter a dunk contest.”
Bryce Finley, a former Arlee basketball player who played for the Warriors during the 2000-2001 season, captured the 3-point competition in his cowboy boots.
Finley, who admitted he retired from playing basketball, still showcased his skills in the 3-point competition.
“I just had a bet with my wife and didn’t plan on making it to the finals,” Finley said. “I made 11 (in the first round) and nine in the second round (of the 3-point competition).”
Finley, who showcased his skill set as a 3-point shooter also admitted he hadn’t played basketball in five years.
“I used to play basketball all of the time,” Finley said. “I have kids that play now.”
Ronan High School player Kianna Finley was the recipient of the Ronan Pioneer Days $500 scholarship award.
Pioneer Days event organizer Steve Woll said they went through several qualified applicants before deciding to award the scholarship to Finley.
“We did (the scholarship) through the school and part of the criteria is that you had to play in the Pioneer Days in the past and (study) some field that has to do with athletiecs or a health topic,” event organizer Steve Woll said. “You had to be a graduate of Ronan that was one of the major criteria and then the (board that reviews the applications) brings them to me to get my recommendation.”
Woll said there was good displays of sportsmanship throughout the 3-on-3 tournament.
“We didn’t have any huge problems (at the 3-on-3 tournament),” Woll said. “We only had one player and one parent technical in the last championship game.”